A Day at the Museum review

:. Director: Jean-Michel Ribes
:. Starring: Michel Blanc, Fabrice Luchini
:. Script: Jean-Michel Ribes
:. Running Time: 1:33
:. Year: 2008
:. Country: France
:. Official Site: A Day at the Museum


Making a comedy that satirizes the art world and most particularly museums was certainly a great premise. As a modest art aficionado, for years I've witnessed the circus that occurs at each art opening and exhibit, evolving into this highly contrasted crowd made up of pedantic — and often wannabee — connoisseurs as well as the curious who are just trying to figure out what all this art is about.

Based on a popular play, Jean-Michel Ribes's A Day at the Museum is a choral work featuring most of the who's who of French cinema, from serious actors such as Fabrice Luchini and André Dussollier to comedic specialists such as Michel Blanc and Gérard Jugnot (even Spanish star Victoria Abril is here). The film is mostly composed of vignettes, switching from one group of visitors to another, giving them just enough time to drop a few lines that are supposed to make a point.

Using such an extended all-star cast in cameo-like moments might have been a good idea on paper but onscreen, it turns into a messy work without any sense of cohesion or narrative that looks nothing like a movie. And one of the problems is that, beside the fact that this is the adaptation of a play, Mr. Ribes is mostly a stage director who isn't able to transcend the play into film form. He is unable to use the dimensions of filmmaking, and having no sense of movement, he places his actors as immobile figures reciting monologues, which comes off as filmed theatre rather than a true movie.

Another issue about making a movie that is a critique of an artistic work is that you place yourself in the position of getting criticized, as your own piece of art and the writers should have thought about this twice before daring to take their work to the screen. Lacking any sense of incisiveness — and a much more corrosive satire could have been made about art — this film embraces the very things it is making fun of. By mostly attempting to take on modern art and the vacuity of elitism, A Day at the Museum becomes what it denounces; mostly turning into a pretentious and superficial bore. The writers seem to so love what they make fun of that they approach everything with a wink, going through impressive artistic name-dropping, which won't mean anything to the average spectator but makes them look like they have high artistic culture.

But this might have arguably been forgivable if A Day at the Museum was funny. Unfortunately, this isn't the case despite the fact that it's a comedy, which makes it a total failure. To be frank, I don't remember when was the last time I hated a film so much and, if based on its premise, you were venturing in to see it to find out what bad art is, at least now you know.

  Fred Thom

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